Jennifer Saunders

Film/Video Educator & Performing Artist

Jennifer S. Saunders

Film Media Literacy Education Pioneer

For 21st Century Learning

I’m a native Detroiter and the company co-founder of People 4 People Productions. I started my career in the Media Industry in 1986 as a graduate student of the innovative M.A. Media Studies Program at The New School For Social Research. It was there that I learned how to integrate media history, theory, research, and management with production work in film, audio, video, and digital media.  But it was at Rutgers University as a Film Teacher throughout the ’90s that I learned how to use a rich mix of film studies, history, 70’s pop culture, and current events of the day to impact student learning in powerful ways.

When I joined the New York City Department of Education as an English Arts/Video Production Teacher in 1986, I witnessed the role drama played in student learning and in shaping attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors.  The youth took ownership of their learning when they were inspired by positive messaging, purpose, and belief in their accelerated learning potential.  Blending film studies and video technology projects with purpose caused them to perform beyond expectation.

In 1999, I was invited to teach at New York City’s premier Film High School, The High School Of Art & Design located on 52nd Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan.  The success of my ‘Meet The Documentarian Lecture Series’ served as further proof that drama, the most powerful tool known to humans whether delivered in-person or through films could be used to change hearts and minds and accelerate student learning. 

When challenged in 2002 to teach underserved students at the High School of Graphic Communication Arts where I also served as the school’s NYC Mentoring Program Coordinator, I delivered in 6-weeks of intensive study the tools students needed to produce an award-winning film.  'Who’s To Blame' reached 2.5 million homes in the United States and aired in 14 countries for 2 weeks during ‘International Education Week’. 

From 1986 until 2009, I joined forces with New York City Artist Agencies, the New York City Department of Education, community organizations, independent artists, and community organizers to deliver Film Media Literacy Education to thousands of youth, many of whom have since entered the Media Industry as young media industry professionals.

Today, in order to help build a better world and a better future for our children and ourselves, I'm 'letting the screen help' and using it to serve us to the best advantage. And while I never planned to become an educator but stumbled into teaching out of pure luck, I'm grateful and simply love it.